Lifetime of fitness |

Lifetime of fitness

Dan BurkhartDick Campion, owner of Club Sierra, works out three times a week at his club in Grass Valley.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Club Sierra owner Dick Campion has a lot of energy.

At an age when most of his peers are retired – Campion will be 81 in a few weeks – he puts in about 40 hours a week between the health club and volunteer work, including serving as the scholarship chairman for Grass Valley Rotary and as Retreat Movement captain and a weekly usher at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grass Valley.

The 40 hours are a breeze for Campion, who put in up to 12 hours a day as an educator for 30 years.

Now Campion is in a position where he can espouse the value of physical fitness and hopefully help others achieve longevity.

Campion was a football, track, judo and/or basketball team member in high school and college. As a senior at San Jose State University at the beginning of World War II, he taught hand-to-hand combat skills in the Physical Education Department.

While earning a master’s degree in administration from Stanford University, Campion taught phys ed in Sunnyvale public schools.

He’s been a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in public schools throughout the state. Moving to Lake of the Pines in 1970, he was Nevada Union High’s principal for two years before retiring.

Campion is proud of the high school graduation requirement instituted when he was principal of Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. Students had to swim a lap in an Olympic-size pool before receiving their diplomas.

“It was a health and safety issue,” said Campion, who promoted teaching recreation skills that “carry over” to later life.

He fine-tuned his philosophy in the mid-1950s representing the Bay Area on then-Gov. Goodwin Knight’s Fitness Council. The council’s purpose was to initiate new programs to promote health education and fitness.

“P.E.’s not just throwing out a bag of balls or having the teacher hand over a bat,” Campion explained. “It should be teaching skills you can use the rest of your life, such as swimming, biking, hiking – activities that are good for you.”

Saying that 60 percent of Americans today are obese, Campion wonders what will happen to children who spend their spare time sitting behind computers.

The slender Campion doesn’t have to worry about his own weight; he follows an extensive workout routine three times a week at Club Sierra. He takes a one-hour dance aerobics class, followed by lifting weights and ending with a brisk swim.

Campion’s doing something right.

“I’m still going,” he said. “My doctors and friends tell me when you’re involved and socializing, you keep a positive attitude.”

“I like to take someone and encourage them to build a better life and socialize through exercise,” added Campion, who is as quick to show others how to operate the machines as he is to just say hello.

With 3,000 Club Sierra members, Campion has plenty of opportunities to do just that.

“It’s always a pleasure to see Dick’s smiling face in class. He’s one of the most health-conscious people I’ve worked with,” said Monica Avilla, who teaches the dance class and is the club’s program director/assistant manager.

“He’s supportive of the type of class I teach, and he cares about everyone in it.”

Campion has no complaints.

“We’re doing fine, the club is successful, we have a lot of great members and I love my staff. We have camaraderie.”

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